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Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

Bank of America Cash Rewards Credit Card Review

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Jan 15, 2019, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

What customer is this card best for?

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a good option for frequent spenders at gas stations and supermarkets, as you’ll earn a higher cashback rate on purchases in those categories.

If you’re someone who has a balance on an existing card or plan on making a large purchase, there is a good 0% intro period for transfers and purchases — 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days and 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles. After both intro periods, there’s a 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR. The 0% intro APR period can save you a tidy sum compared with carrying debt on a high-interest card.

  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles

  • 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days

  • 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • NEW OFFER: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile banking app or Online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
  • No expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25% - 75% rewards bonus on every purchase

See additional details for Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

More Info

This card isn’t for people who don’t spend in the bonus categories, as you’ll earn a subpar rate on all other purchases. You would be better off with a flat-rate card that earns you a consistently high rate on all purchases like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer or a rewards card that is more aligned with your spending.

This card also isn’t for people who need a long time to pay off a balance. You can find other low interest cards with 0% intro periods of 18 or 21 months.

Where this card stands out in its category

Flexible cashback program. Cardholders have the ability to choose from one of six categories to earn 3% cash back each month: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings. Earn 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase. The ability to change the bonus cashback category each month is unique since many cards only allow you to select new bonus categories every quarter or don’t allow you to choose at all.

Redemption bonus. This card offers great redemption bonuses for cardholders with an active personal (nonbusiness) checking, savings or individual retirement account with Bank of America or who are a client of Merrill Edge®, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated or U.S. Trust (excluding 401(k) or other employer sponsored plans and 529 plans): Preferred Rewards clients  receive a 25-75% rewards bonus on every purchase when cash back is redeemed into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. This allows you to maximize your cashback earnings.

Where this card falls short in its category

This card falls short in the quarterly maximum it has on bonus categories: 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase. Since the cap applies to spending across all bonus categories, very big spenders in these categories may not earn the best cashback rate and may benefit more from both a grocery card and gas card. However, the cap is higher than you’ll get with some other cards that cap bonus category spending at $1,500 a quarter.

Another drawback of this card is the relatively short intro period for purchases and balance transfers. You can find cards with longer intro periods that offer more time to pay off your debt.

Additional card benefits

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers several additional card benefits beyond its cash back program and 0% intro APR periods:

  • FICO® score for free: Any unauthorized charges on your account won’t be your responsibility.
  • ShopSafe®: This is a free service that generates a temporary credit card number that links directly to your real credit card account number when making purchases online. Your card number is not given to the merchant and remains private.
  • $0 liability guarantee: Unauthorized purchases made on your account are not at your expense.
  • Online chat: No need to call a representative. You can easily log on to online banking to chat about any questions you may have.
  • Digital wallet technology: Utilize the easy payment features of Apple Pay®, Microsoft™ Wallet, Android Pay™ or Samsung Pay to pay in-app, online or in-store.

How to use the card most effectively

To get the most value out of the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, be sure to use it for all of your gas, grocery, and wholesale club purchases. This will allow you to earn the higher cashback rate on these purchases (until you hit the cap).

For all other spending, it’s a good idea to use a flat-rate card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer so you can earn a higher rate than if you only used the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. Also, make sure to spend the required amount in the given time period to earn the signup bonus.

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

  • 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*

  • 15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)

Highlights
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness*
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

See additional details for Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

More Info

If you plan on taking advantage of the 0% intro APR period for a large purchase, make sure you complete the purchase as soon as possible so you can take advantage of the majority of the intro period. For those who want to complete a balance transfer, be aware you have to transfer your balance within 60 days from account opening, and there is a transfer fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Rewards breakdown

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card recently revamped its cashback program to offer 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase. The changes benefit cardholders who want to have control over which spending category earns 3% cash back. The 3% cashback category can be changed monthly, compared to cards that automatically select bonus categories each quarter.

If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you’ll earn a 25-75% customer bonus at the time of redemption if you redeem your cash rewards into a Bank of America® checking or savings account or an eligible Cash Management Account® with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management® or Merrill Edge®. The customer bonus is not earned on cash rewards redeemed for a statement credit or check.

There is a signup bonus for this card that will earn you additional cash back so long as you complete your application online and meet the requirements: $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Compare it with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.

  • 3% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases*

  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.

Highlights
  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

More Info

If you spend large sums at supermarkets, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a higher cashback rate of 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) compared to the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, which offers a lower 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases. However, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card also includes wholesale clubs at 2% cash back.

If offsetting gas expenditures are top of your list, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is a better choice since you can earn 3% cash back after you select gas stations as the bonus category. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earns a lower 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations.

Rewards programs aside, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express provides more added benefits than the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, such as travel accident insurance, cell phone protection, free two-day shipping with ShopRunner and more.

Here’s a breakdown of the key terms of each card:

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Annual fee $0 $0
Purchase intro rate 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles 0% for 15 months
Balance transfer intro rate 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days 0% for 15 months
Balance transfer fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater. Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Ongoing APR 16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR 15.24%-26.24% Variable
Rewards 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases & 1% cash back on every purchase 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign up bonus $150 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Foreign transaction fee 3% 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

Bottom line

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers a good cashback program for spenders at gas stations, supermarkets and wholesale clubs, as well as a decent 0% intro APR period that can provide you with the time needed to pay a balance. However, there are cards that can offer you longer 0% intro APR periods and better cashback programs.


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